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The last editor informs us that the spiritual songs “ have been ascribed to one Wedderburn, of whom we know little. But there were three brothers of that name, all endowed with a poetical talent. The eldest, it has been noticed, wrote tragedies and comedies. The second was first a Catholic, and then turned Protestant. Being persecuted as an heretic by the clergy, he fled to Germany, where he heard Luther and Melancthon. He translated many of Luther's principles into Scotish verse, and changed many obscene songs and rhymes into hymns. After the death of James V. he returned to Scotland. But, having again been accused of heresy, he fled into England, where he probably died about the year 1556. The third brother was vicar of Dundee ; and, in learning, is said to have surpassed the other two.
He went to Paris, and there associated with the Reformers; and, at Cardinal Beaton's death, returned to his native country.
• He turned the tunes and tenour of many profane ballads into godlie songs and hymnes, which were called the Psalmes of Dundie; whereby he stirred up the affections of many.' Whether this will be esteemed decisive evidence of the author or not, these poems were probably written merely to serve the present occasion; and the more literary reformers might have a share in them. Indeed, the very same expressions are frequently to
be found in their other works. Our author observes he is in prison.'
One of the Wedderburns was most probably the author of The Complaynt of Scotland; a curious specimen of Scotish prose which has lately been republished.
The author of these poems, however laudable his intentions may have been, has certainly acquired very little honour by his persevering labours. From the preservation of such wretched productions, we are not however authorized to conclude that the general taste of the age was equally debased with that of Wedderburn. Compositions hardly superior in any respect have been published during the eighteenth century: and yet the same period was adorned by such writers as Robertson, Hume, and Ferguson. A specimen of this work was edited by Lord Hailes in the year 1765; and it might have been expected that his selection would satisfy the curiosity of most antiquaries.
HENRY BALNAVES of Hallhill, one of the most distinguished of the Reformers, appears to have been a writer of verse as well as of prose. He was admitted a Senator of the College of Justice in the year 1538°. In 1546 he joined the party which had been concerned in the murder of Cardinal Beaton; and when they were besieged in the castle of St Andrews, he was dispatched to the court of England in order to procure a supply of moneyd. When the fortress at length surrendered to the French, he was conducted among others to the castle of Rouen : and during his confinement, he composed what Knox terms “ a comfortable treatise of justification.” In 1563 he was nominated among the commissioners for revising The Book of Disciplinef. In 1568 Buchanan, Balnaves, and others, accompanied the Earl of Murray when he visited England for the purpose of meeting Queen Mary's commissioners. His name is on several other occasions mentioned in the public annals of that age. He is characterized by Sir James Melvil as “ a godly, learned, wise, and long-experimented counsellors.” According to Dr Mackenzie, he died in 1579.
b Dalyell’s Remarks on ane Booke of Godly Songs, p. 35. c Hailes, Catalogue of the Lords of Session, p. 2.
A poem subscribed Balnaves, and beginning “O gallandis all, I cry and call,” has been published in the second volume of Ramsay's collection.
d Burnet's History of the Reformation, vol. ii. p. 7.
€“ The Confession of Faith, conteining how the troubled man should seeke refuge at his God, therto led by faith ; &c. Compiled by M. Henry Balnaues, of Halhill, and one of the Lords of Session and Counsell of Scotland, being as prisoner within the old pallaice of Roane, in the yeare of our Lord 1548. Direct to his faithfull brethren, being in like trouble or more, and to all true professours and fauourers of the syncere worde of God.” Edinb. 1584, 8vo.---This work Dr Mackenzie has evidently split into two. (Lives of Scots Writers, vol. iii. p. 147.) f Calderwood's Hist. of the Church of Scotland, p. 33.
Melvil's Memoires, p. 27. VOL. II.
The Earl of Glencairn, another steady partizan of the Reformation, was also a cultivator of poetry. One of his productions has been preserved by Knox, under the title of " An Epistle directed from the Holy Hermite of Larites to his brethren the Gray Friersh."
JAMES INGLIS, Abbot of Culross, is celebrated by Sir David Lindsay as a writer of miscellaneous poetry:
Quha can say mair than Schir James Inglis sayis
Lindsay here insinuates that his advancement to the abbacy of Culross had withdrawn his attention from poetical studies. Dr Mackenzie, whose life of Inglis is inaccurate even to ridicule, asserts that he was knighted in consequence of his military distinction : but it is evident that he was styled Sir because he was a dignified ecclesiastic. K. James the Fourth, in a letter addrest to a Mr James Inglis, gratefully acknowledges his politeness in offering to furnish him with some rare books of alchemy'. The abbot was murdered by the laird of Tulliallan in the year 15301.
h Knox's Historie of the Reformatioun, p. 26. i Epistolæ Regum Scotorum, vol. i. p. 118. i Leslæus de Rebus Gestis Scotorum, p. 413.
The poem entitled A General Satyre is by Maitland ascribed to Inglis; but by Bannatyne it is ascribed to Dunbar. To the former of these poets no other composition is attributed in any of the MSS.
John MOFFAT, who was probably another of the pope's knights, is the author of a pious piece of advice To Remembir the Endk. In Bau natyne's MS. the name of Moffat is also subjoined, though in a more modern hand, to the humorous and popular ballad of The Wife of Auchtermuchty.
GEORGE BANNATYNE, by whose pious care the works of so many other poets have been preserved, is here entitled to an affectionate tribute of applause. He was himself a writer of verse; and several of his compositions occur in the MS. which has so frequently been mentioned in the preceding pages. Of his personal history no memorials can perhaps be discovered. · Mr Tytler, who styles him “one of the canons of the cathedral of Murray!," seems to have confounded him with Dr John Bellenden; who was Archdeacon of Murray, and Canon of Ross.
His celebrated collection is prefaced by the following address of The Wryttar to the Reidaris:
k Hailes, Ancient Scottish Poems, p. 187. ! Tytler's Dissertation on the Scottish Music, p. 245.